Unproductive farmers do not deserve land

HARARE - Recently, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation deputy minister Davis Marapira threatened unproductive resettled farmers — particularly Zanu PF bigwigs — that they risked losing their land.

Marapira is a commendable, rare voice of reason in Zanu PF and one that was long overdue as the nation hopes decisive measures will be taken.

The minister said many beneficiaries of land reform — laughably and sadly — had turned their farms into “braai spots”.

Right from the start, Zanu PF’s land reform exercise has been viewed as a political card played by President Robert Mugabe and has benefited mostly his cronies and other politically-connected individuals.

While ordinary Zimbabweans were empowered with pieces of land through the process, to a great extent, the strategic and productive farms were acquired mostly by Zanu PF bigwigs.

This is why the land reform exercise has been viewed as controversial.

And the same applies to the indigenisation exercise — compelling all foreign-owned firms to cede majority shareholding to black Zimbabweans.

Indeed, both the land reform and indigenisation exercises were noble causes that must have empowered ordinary Zimbabweans and improved their lives.

But sadly, the processes were hijacked and abused by bigwigs and the politically connected.

As Marapira is justifiably arguing, Zanu PF bigwigs cannot reduce the once-productive land to mere braai spots. We agree with him. Prior to the heavy-handed land reform exercise, Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa.

Despite the added effects of climate change, the country has since become a basket case — failing to feed its own.

Since the advent of land reform, several audits — the Charles Utete, Flora Buka and Didymus Mutasa’s — have been commissioned by Mugabe to evaluate the utilisation of land. They all confirmed under utilisation of the resettled land.

The indigenisation programme had the same effects. Prior to the process, Zimbabwean firms were operating quite stably.

This is not to say that the initiative was wrong. No! Of course, at some point, Zimbabweans had to be empowered economically, and this is not peculiar to Zimbabwe.

The exercise has been successfully implemented by several governments elsewhere. But sadly, ours was again abused by Zanu PF bigwigs who grabbed most foreign-owned firms for self-enrichment.

Today, most of the companies have collapsed, with many ordinary people losing employment and struggling on the streets.

Marapira is surely one of the rare voices of reason in Zanu PF. But please, go beyond just threats. Take action.

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